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Maputoland Information, Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal.

It lies in South Africa’s northeast region and forms part of Zululand’s rich heritage. With outstanding game viewing, world-class bird watching (over 400 species – 60% of all bird species found in South Africa) scuba diving and snorkelling, lake and river canoeing, fishing excursions and cultural experiences, Maputoland is a largely undiscovered wonderland.

From the northern banks of Lake St Lucia, Maputoland stretches beyond the Mozambique border to Maputo. The region’s eastern side is flanked by the Indian Ocean with its coral reefs, golden beaches, pristine estuaries and unpolluted lake systems, while in the west lie the Lebombo Mountains. All in all Maputoland has a great diversity of ecosystems that offer the tourist excellent beach and wildlife experiences.

Along with the rich tradition and proud history of the Zulu, Maputoland reflects Swazi, Shangaan and Tonga cultural interests, both traditional and contemporary, as well as the early colonial influences from ancient trade routes where ivory, rhino horn and skins were exchanged for cloth, brass and beads with Swahili and Portuguese traders. Eco-cultural tourism is closely linked to communal upliftment and natural resource management, adding value to the land and creating a livelihood for the people of the area.

Maputoland has a high concentration of protected areas. These include game reserves and parks such as Pongola, Mkuze, Ndumu, Tembe Elephant, Phinda and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi as well as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Sodwana Marine Reserve and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. Each offers distinctive attractions to the visitor, ranging from vast numbers of black and white rhino, some of the last truly wild elephant in Southern Africa, the Big5, concentrations of hippo and crocodile and large populations of nyala. There are also wonderful bird-viewing hides from which to watch and photograph the activity around a waterhole, as well as outstanding walks and numerous trails through the astonishing diversity of natural habitats, including savannah, bushveld and rare sand forest.

The Pongola River floodplain, with its clusters of fever trees and dense thickets alternating with scrub dotted with wild dates and iLala palms can be explored on horseback. Tranquil Lake Sibaya, the largest freshwater lake in South Africa, is a birdwatcher’s paradise, while the waters of Lake Jozini (Pongolapoort Dam) offer game viewing from boats and excellent tiger fishing. Dingane’s grave and the archaeologically important Border Caves, containing some of the oldest homo sapien remains on earth, which date back to the Middle Stone Age, are found in the Lebombo Mountains nearby.

Sodwana Bay offers opportunities on the world’s southernmost tropical reefs where over 1000 species have been identified. Deep-sea fishing charters depart from here, while snorkelling in rock pools is another option. From November through January endangered leatherback turtles are given sanctuary in the Marine reserve, to follow their primordial nesting ritual, coming ashore at night to lay their eggs in the coastal dunes. Some weeks later the tiny hatchlings emerge from the nests and scramble in desperate haste across the sand for the relative safety of the water. Humpback whales, whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins are also seasonal parts of the spectacular marine life of the region.

Other attractions include fly-fishing in the coastal lakes of Kosi Bay, a paradise for anglers and nature lovers, spotting the rare palmnut vulture, or snorkelling on a protected reef in the estuary mouth. The magnificent coastline also features the diving and fishing resorts of Ponta de Ouro and Ponta Malengane in Mozambique.

Looking east from Mkuze, two prominent features rise out of the Lebombo range. On the left is Gaza and, on the right, Tshaweni, jointly known as Ghost Mountain. Here, in one of four caves, is a sacred burial site used for generations for the chiefs of the Gaza clan. It is also the burial place of Shoshangane, who fled to Mozambique in 1819 to escape the tyranny of King Shaka, and went on to found the Shangaan nation. Following the Anglo Zulu War in 1879, Dinizulu and Zibhebu, who were rivals for the crown of the deposed king, Cetshwayo, fought the Battle of Tshaneni in 1884, leaving the slopes of Ghost Mountain strewn with the bones of fallen warriors.

Maputoland offers visitors the opportunity to retrace the paths of past traders, explorers, pioneers and tribesmen, to view traditional homesteads amongst the rural tribal communities, to revel in the area’s unspoiled beauty and to enjoy unforgettable wilderness experiences.

Suite #303, Tourist Junction, #160 Pine Street, Durban. ABMapu

Contct:         Tourism Kwa-Zulu Natal
Box 2516 Durban 4000
+27 (31) 304 7144+27 (31) 304 7144
+27 (31) 304 8792+27 (31) 304 8792

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Last update: 2014-03-27 14:14
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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